Mario Stanic: The Chelsea cult hero you have probably forgotten

What do Federico Macheda and Mario Stanic have in common?

The answer is they both scored extraordinary goals on debut for their clubs and failed to do anything else of note.

Stanic’s was near the end of his career and Macheda’s was at the start of his – but both have defined their legacy.

Before I go on, here is the Stanic goal – although I am sure you have already seen it.

Stanic’s Chelsea arrival back in 2000 was overshadowed by the two other players who were signed alongside him – Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Stanic had previously played for some famous clubs before coming to Chelsea, including Sporting Gijon, Benfica, Club Brugge and Parma.

Having impressed at that great Parma team of the 1990’s – playing with Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Hernán Crespo and Lilian Thuram – Stanic signed for £5.6million in 2000.

Even though Stanic was a striker, he was never prolific – he only scored 25 goals in four seasons at Parma – but was a regular for the Croatia national team.

And in his four years at Chelsea – which were plagued by injuries – he could only score six more goals after his debut wonder-strike.

Due to the excellence of that goal, Stanic has been awarded cult-hero status by many Chelsea fans.

The fact that it came against a Harry Redknapp managed West Ham just sweetened it even more.

(Photo By Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Unlike heroes who have come since – such as John Terry or Frank Lampard – the fondness Chelsea fans have towards Stanic is definitely not performance-based.

The memory of him smashing the ball in from 35 yards out has overshadowed the following lean years for many Chelsea fans.

But in British football, those players – the ones who are remembered for doing one thing and one thing only – have a special place in fans’ hearts.

Macheda did it with his goal against Aston Villa, Lilian Nalis did it against Leicester and the late, great Cheick Tioté did it with his goal against Arsenal in the 4-4 comeback.

Stanic represents this uniquely British viewpoint on players who represent only one great moment, as in that one moment, we can just about imagine it is us walloping the ball in from miles out or going on a mazy run before scoring past a helpless ‘keeper.

Players will come and go, but Stanic will always hold a special place in Chelsea fans’ hearts, if only to see the anguish on poor Redknapp’s face.